The way teachers instruct and students learn has changed significantly over the past few years. No factor has had a bigger impact than the pandemic, which emphasized just how important student engagement is and underscored the role that educational technology can play in supporting student success. As these changes were happening, Macmillan Learning launched its new digital learning platform, Achieve.
While some instructors were just starting to embrace new technologies, others -- like Central Florida Psychology Professor Amira Sims -- have been relying on it for many years. She was among the first to transition from the online learning platform LaunchPad to Achieve to better support active learning in her classes. We spoke to her about what teaching was like during the pandemic and about her transition to our new platform.
The transition to a virtual classroom was inevitable with the pandemic. What were some of the ways that edtech supported it in your class?
My college installed a camera and microphone in my office desk top so that we could teach synchronous online classes or hold office hours remotely. We also had several professional development seminars centered on using technology for education purposes.
Using Achieve really helped me to feel confident that although there was no lecture, students were exposed to the information and had an opportunity to play with concepts.
How long have you been using online tools in your class, and what helped you decide to embrace the new tech?
I have been using online tools in my classroom since 2004. When I first started teaching (as an adjunct) I taught blended classes. Over the years I have only become more and more reliant on web-enhancement in all classes I teach.
While campus life has returned to something slightly more normal, how has the pandemic changed the classroom and/or the way you teach?
I no longer take roll and I waive the late penalty for all of my classes. I began making videos on a more consistent basis to help students stay on course.
How do Achieve and LaunchPad differ?
I use Launchpad for my Human Development course and Achieve for my General Psychology course. The main differences I notice is that students in the Development course all praise Learning Curve, whereas students seem to comment more on the activities with Achieve that help them to practice concepts and think critically. In general, Achieve seems to have more activities and a few more tools on the dashboard for the instructor. Most of my students have responded favorably to Achieve.
This interview is part of a series focusing on how digital learning is being used in college classrooms and, in particular, what the transition to Achieve has been like.
About Achieve: Macmillan Learning built its new digital learning platform Achieve to help students of all abilities and backgrounds succeed. It offers the content, tools and insights about student success to do just that. Achieve was designed with active learning in mind, and can be used in traditional, online, hybrid, blended, or a fully “flipped” classroom, with options for both synchronous and asynchronous learning to support engagement. It was co-designed with more than 7,000 students and over 100 leading educators and learning scientists both at our company and on our independent review boards. Learn more about Achieve.